Southern-Style Biscuit Shop Opening on Avenue A

By Dana Varinsky on October 28, 2013 8:28am 

EAST VILLAGE — Hot biscuits will soon be available 'round the clock on Avenue A.

Empire Biscuit, a new restaurant at 198 Avenue A, will aim to please both morning commuters and the late-night bar crowd with freshly baked biscuits starting Wednesday morning. The flaky Southern favorites will be topped with a selection of gourmet spreads, including goat cheese and black pepper butter, pineapple and thyme jam and pumpkin pie spread, owners Jonathan Price and Yonadav Tsuna said.

“We’re 24 hours because we think the product is 24 hours,” Price said. “You can get some really vibrant fruit jam or a breakfast sandwich in the morning, but if you’re a reveler out at 4 a.m., something like biscuits and gravy is called for.”

Price, 34, and Tsuna, 23, both hail from the South, as does executive chef Karl Wilder, who is a New Orleans native. The pair originally discussed opening a fried fish joint, which would sell Southern-style biscuits late at night. But they noticed that the biscuits were what got people excited.

“Our friends would sleep through the fried fish part, and then they would freak out when we mentioned biscuits and gravy at 3 a.m.,” Price said.

In April, Price and Tsuna announced their vision, and the partners spent the summer readying their space and menu. Price said the East Village was always his ideal location for the restaurant.

“We always thought this was right for this neighborhood because it’s full of different kinds of people at different times of day,” he said, adding that he has no intention of adding alcohol to his menu.

The restaurant's offerings are slated to change often, rotating through more than 60 seasonal jams and 40 flavored butters. Tsuna said he thinks of the biscuits as a Southern version of the hot bagels often associated with New York City, since the restaurant will have a similar grab-and-go style and a range of toppings.

Empire Biscuit’s prices will be similar to those at bagels shops as well. A biscuit topped with a custom combination of jam and butter will cost $4.50, while biscuit sandwiches will range from $6 to $8.50.

Empire Biscuit opens with reduced hours Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Starting Friday, it will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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